Monday, December 14, 2009

Thinking Out Loud.

From the ODAT, page 349:

"...answers came not from books, but from mutual caring and thinking out loud with someone you felt comfortable with."

This has been one of the most helpful teachings of 12-Step -  learning to reason things out with someone else. When I'm inside my head, I have only myself, and old critical, parental voices as my guides, and they have both been proven to have faulty judgement, as both can be too obsessed with listing off my shortcomings, real and imagined, or berating me for mistakes past, present, and not made yet, to be of any help in making decisions.

Time and again I've found myself expounding to my sponsor or a program friend, and glanced up from my examination of my hands, (a habit I have when deep in thought)  to see them demonstrating the unmistakeable signs of being engaged in a heroic struggle to maintain their composure, and not laugh. Biting of lips, strange breathing, compulsive swallowing, all  indications of the same fight, and nowadays, just seeing those signs makes me start laughing.

At one time, I'd have felt offended, but now I'm well-enough acquainted with my own insane thinking, to grasp the plain truth that there are times when it's just plain funny that I can imbue trifles with such import, and then spend hours repeatedly picking them over, when I have the alternative choice of enjoying my life.

An AA friend jokes that he used to spend time with his sponsor doing the mental equivalent of bashing himself in the forehead with a length of 2x4, and then complaining to his sponsor of the resulting swelling, bruising, and pain. His sponsor would sit and watch this, saying at intervals, "You could always put the board down, you're the one holding it..."  and my friend would argue that no, no, his sponsor didn't understand, WHACK! he needed to do this in order to think, WHACK! and couldn't his sponsor find a way to help him make this less painful?

His sponsor would reply that he couldn't; when you verbally and emotionally abuse yourself, it's going to be painful, and that's just the way it goes, no way to make abuse feel good. There's the option of not being abusive, of course, why not try that one?

I get such a great mental image when my friend shares this, because I did that same thing for years before Al-Anon, bashing and smashing at myself with emotionally abusive thought patterns, and then wondering why I felt depressed and hopeless.

I felt depressed and hopeless because I was always telling myself what a stupid, useless, ugly, unlovable, waste of space I was - I had incorporated into my own thinking, the verbal abuse which began from an outside source in childhood. Before Al-Anon, I'd never questioned this.

Thinking out loud, I'll often hear myself say something, and immediately realise how demented it sounds. Unspoken, but continually revolving in my internal dialogue, it sounds quite plausible.

Reasoning things out with someone else is helpful, instructive, educating, and kind. That's another concept I found new and interesting - kindness to myself. I had to learn to refrain from saying mean things to myself: it doesn't help, it only creates further misery. Put down the mental 2x4, and talk to a trusted listener - someone who won't give advice, but who will point out the bits that jump out at them as barking mad possibly needing further investigation.

1 comment:

  1. Cheryl, this is so true. I reasoned stuff out yesterday with another friend in Al-Anon and then went to do something that made me feel good, after which I prayed. It all helped to lift my mood. Great post.